The Incidence of Anxiety and Depression in Physical Therapy Students. II. Hypothesis, Research Question and Literature Review

The Incidence of Anxiety and Depression in Physical Therapy Students. II. Hypothesis, Research Question and Literature Review

Goplerud looked at the effect of social interaction on 22 graduate psychology students completed the study.  Students who were more socially isolated reported more stressful events, more intense events and greater cumulative stress than did socially supported subjects.  The more socially isolated students also reported a greater number of emotional and health problems than the socially supported students.  Social support emerged as a major mediating variable in students’ assessments of the stressfulness of events experienced during their first six months of graduate study and in the number of emotional and physical problems experienced during the same interval.  Although the number of subjects in this study was small, social support appears to be a crucial variable that moderates negative consequences of the unavoidable life changes that occur during students’ first year of graduate work.  The author suggests that developing faculty awareness of their own critical influence on graduate students health and emotional well-being, and helping new students expand their socially supportive contacts appear to be important primary and secondary prevention strategies to reduce graduate students risk for stress-related problems.

Parker (1979) looked at sex differences in non-clinical depression of 236 graduate students.  Results indicated no significant differences in depression, self-esteem, trait anxiety, neuroticism or extraversion between the sexes. In another study (Miao, 1977), both male and female senior college students majoring in agriculture and human development showed significantly lower anxiety and depression levels when compared with male and female senior students majoring in engineering, humanities and economics.  Self-perception of college achievement was significantly related to differential levels of anxiety as well as depressive reactions.

After a thorough search, no studies could be found examining physical therapy students and the incidence of distress, depression or anxiety. There was only one related study (Balogun, Helgemoe, Pellegrini & Hoeberlein, 1995) in which the reliability of a psychometric instrument designed to measure physical therapy student burnout was assessed.  Although not the purpose of the study, results indicated that senior physical therapy subjects reported lower scores on personal accomplishment (not knowing as much didactic information as they thought they would) than the junior physical therapy subjects.  The authors report this finding indicates a less than expected accomplishment, is experienced by senior students during their educational training.


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Clare LewisClare Lewis graduated from the Professional School of Psychology in 2003 with her doctorate in clinical psychology and in 2005 with her doctorate in organizational psychology. She has been licensed as a clinical psychologist since 2012.  In addition to her psychology degrees, Clare is a licensed physical therapist with an advanced masters in orthopedic manual therapy and an transitional doctorate in physical therapy.  Clare is a certified manual therapist from the Stanley Paris Institute and a fellow of the American Association of Orthopedic and Manual Physical Therapists.  Clare has been a professor in the department of physical therapy at CSU Sacramento since 1996.  She has taught the psychology class and orthopedic class for majors for many years. She practices physical therapy at Remedy Rehab in Sacramento, CA doing orthopedic out-patient manual therapy and volunteers at the suicide hotline for Sacramento County.

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